International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Pakistan formally launched its project titled “Assessment of the State of Nature and Biodiversity Safeguarding Actions in Northern Pakistan” in collaboration with the line departments, private sector and local communities at Forest Complex, Gilgit-Baltistan Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department (GBFWED), Government of Gilgit-Baltistan (GoGB).Shahid Zaman, Secretary Forest, Wildlife and Environment, GoGB graced the occasion as chief guest.
The program started with welcome address by Mahmood Akthar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan. He said that IUCN is a membership Union uniquely composed of both government and civil society organizations.
It provides public, private and non-governmental organizations with the knowledge and tools that enable human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together. Cheema emphasized on integrated efforts for the conservation and management of fragile natural resources of the area.
Zaman appreciated IUCN Pakistan for launching the timely needed project, especially in the wake of emerging infrastructural development and mass tourism in the area.
He assured IUCN Pakistan full support from his department and suggested a coordination committee at Gilgit-Baltistan level to take to enhance collaboration and built on what has been discussed during the stakeholder consultation meetings and project inception workshop.
D. Javed Ahmed Chaudhary, Senior Biodiversity Expert, IUCN presented an overview of the outcomes of stakeholders’ consultation meetings and discussed in detail the project implementation and action plan.
He emphasized on addressing the issues faced by trophy hunting programme and urged the department to collaborate with IUCN for taking it to the next level where the focus should be on community managed conservation and the programme should be conservation centric.
Dr. Rizwan Irshad, Deputy Director Biodiversity, Ministry of Climate Change highlighted the importance of such initiative that was designed in collaboration by IUCN and MoCC. He also emphasized on the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Law at this occasion as an important obligation of the Government of Pakistan.
Dr. Zakir Hussain, Chief Conservator Forest, GoGB highlighted the efforts of IUCN Pakistan on which the Department has built on their conservation programme and added that the Northern Areas Conservation Strategy developed by IUCN is still used as a reference.
He further added that his department needs technical expertise of IUCN to further improve and bring non-functional protected areas into conservation regime.